The individual molecules inside our cells are tiny. Their three-dimensional shapes and structures are far smaller than our eyes can make out, and only revealed with high-tech approaches such as powerful microscopes or X-ray crystallography. But these fun origami models – including DNA (left) and a green fluorescent protein – make them larger than life. They've been produced by the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics for their Molecule of the Month series, which aims to help learners of all ages explore the world of molecular shapes. And it's not just paper proteins: there are all sorts of other activities too. Enabling people to 'see' these 3D shapes helps them to understand how different molecules function in healthy cells, how they go wrong in disease, and how 'smart drugs' – such as targeted therapies for cancer – lock onto specific parts of proteins in order to do their jobs.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.